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Obama’s diplomatic victories in Europe and Turkey

April 11th, 2009



My friend Gordon’s son lives in Germany and I find his analysis of Pres. Obama’s European trip (below) interesting.  I thought you might as well.  



Life is fragile.  Handle with care.




From Len in Germany, after I had asked him a similar question on the phone.


It is better to wear out than rust out.!!!!

— On Wed, 4/8/09, Shirts Len <> wrote:


Hi all,

I just wanted to let you all know a bit about the impact of President Obama‘s trip to Europe. On reading the internet news I have a feeling that in the USA you just don’t get a feel of what this trip meant.

Obama has scored high. That is putting it mildly. I read an article in “Stern” (comparable to Time or the old Life) which made that clear. It wasn’t the huge popular crowds of an impressed Europe – the comments, especially from the BBC, are all a bit jealous comparing him to a “pop star”. No, it was what actually went on in these summits.

In the New York Times they say that he didn’t get everything he wanted. That may be true, but when one knows how contrary Europe was, then it is more true to say that he got a lot more than anyone here ever expected. There was a lot of opposition and he just ironed them flat and suddenly the leaders were all exuberantly speaking of an historic moment of compromise and agreement.

Obama was also central in preventing several major european political fiascos, that probably weren’t noticed over in the States. He did it by taking leaders of opposing factions aside, speaking quietly to them, then reconciling them with each other. 

This was the case with Denmark and Turkey: Turkey was resisting Denmark’s taking up the chairmanship over an old feud over a political cartoon. After a talk under six eyes they were all friends again. In reconciling these two countries he saved France’s and Germany’s faces – they had backed Denmark.

He managed to win over Germany’s support for more funds. Again, by taking Angela Merkel aside and speaking to her alone. Suddenly she voted for something she had adamantly resisted.

He impressed the leaders by doing something that they never expected from a leader of the USA: acknowledging that the present financial crisis had it’s start in the USA and then accepting responsibility. This took the wind out of a lot of sails that might have steered the Europeans to a deadwind deadlock. Instead, they managed to agree on a program which might not satisfy all but nevertheless was an astoundlingly quick compromise.

His knowledge (respectively, his astute use of knowledge fed to him by his team) allowed him in his speeches to make local references and local relevances… I watched the speech in Prague and was astounded how he created bridges between the Czech situation and his agenda. 

In Turkey he again did something that was a complete surprise and which seems to have won over the Turkisch people and politicians. He said, basically (not a direct quote) I have my feelings and opinions (about the turkish genocide on the  Armenian populace at the beginning of the twentieth century) and they haven’t changed. But I will keep them to myself. More important than the past is the present reconciliation, and I want to help Turkey and Armenia come together again.

This is an example of what is truly new in Obama’s strategy. Expected was a condemnation of this historical genocide, which certainly would have been politically correct but which would have only put fuel on the fire. Obama changed course, but without denying his/the USAs own personal/political views.. 

There were several other things he said and actions he took in Turkey that were very positively taken by the turkish people. I don’t think you know this, I didn’t know this, but up until this point the USA was very unpopular in Turkey. I can hardly believe this, but I read that the turkish people had the lowest opinion of the USA in the world. In any case, very very low. Obama has turned this around. This is extremely important because Turkey is the meeting point of East and West.

Theater R.A.B.

Random Acts of Beauty

Franziska Braegger & Len Shirts GbR

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D – 79100 Freiburg im Breisgau



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